Changes aren’t coming just yet. But Joe Paterno acknowledged things need to improve. And soon.
The Penn State coach urged patience on Thursday during his taped segment on the team’s weekly radio show. Paterno said the Nittany Lions have plenty to work on headed into Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan but suggested he won’t be making any immediate personnel changes.
“We’re not that bad really,” Paterno said. “I think we gotta keep getting more consistent, make some plays. Last week against Temple, we made some big plays but we had penalties. We haven’t really come to the front and felt comfortable that we can dominate yet.
“Having said that – people hate to hear me put it this way – but we played two good football teams. I think we’ll get better, we’ll pick it up.”
The kicking game is a particularly big focus for the Lions after missing three field goals in last week’s 14-10 win at Temple. The Lions had a field goal and a punt blocked in that game, and the team is just 1-for-6 on field goals this season.
Penn State will likely give junior Evan Lewis (1-for-5) another chance to kick on Saturday.
“If we don’t get results, then I really gotta take a good look at how we’re doing things and who’s kicking and how we’re kicking,” Paterno said. “Right now it’s a little too early for us to panic.
“The problem we have is we have kids who have got good legs. They’re just so inconsistent. They hurt themselves. They don’t seem to have the kind of confidence that they can go out there and make kick after kick exactly the same. You hate to give up on them. But if we don’t get better pretty quick, we’re gonna have to (make some changes).”
Junior tailback Brandon Beachum will miss Saturday’s game with a sprained ankle, according to The Daily Collegian.
Beachum, the top backup to Silas Redd, was spotted around State College wearing a walking boot, according to the report. Beachum confirmed he was injured during a goal-line drill on Tuesday when a teammate fell on his right foot. X-rays were negative.
He is expected to return next week for the Big Ten opener at Indiana.
With Beachum out, the Lions’ depth at tailback is extremely thin. Senior Stephfon Green remains suspended from the team and Redd was sidelined down the stretch against Temple because of cramps. Beachum took over on the Lions’ decisive drive and converted a fourth-and-1 from the Temple 3-yard line to set up Michael Zordich’s winning touchdown.
Redd has practiced in full this week according to Penn State players and should be 100 percent to face Eastern Michigan. Sophomore Curtis Dukes would be the No. 2 tailback.